I didn’t have the slightest hint in my life that I will be given the chance to observe fashion in a large metropolis like the Big Apple. With a year of experience in the city’s fashion industry and a daily late afternoon stroll before going home, along the busy street of 7th Avenue, NY’s fashion district, it was a sight to behold watching people from all walks of life strutting their fashion stuffs. I saw people wearing all sorts of style, from formal coat and tie/ladies power suits to rugged denim jeans and shirts, along the sidewalks of the street. It was as if I were in the front seat of a major project runway where all the people in the sidewalk were real life models, showcasing their best for the show.
As I am a “fashionista” by heart (though not in its strictest sense), I cherished those moments because the said experience gave me some pointers on how fashion can affect the overall outside physical appearance of a person. But as time goes along, I was no longer appreciating everything I see, I started to look a little closer, stopped , took count and I was surprised to pinpoint based on my standards lots of fashion faux pas. I am neither a fashion expert nor a fashion model/celebrity, but I know I have this innate fashion flair to distinguish which of these styles are appropriate or not.
For those not so familiar about the term “faux pas”, it is a French word which literally means “false step”. Mr. Webster and the online dictionary defined it as a social blunder or indiscretion, a violation of accepted social norms. It is pronounced as “ fo pɑ”. In fashion, it is like wearing things that shouldn’t be put on together, or wearing something which doesn’t suit to a particular built or wearing something with stripes and polka dots with a leather jacket and fur feathered hat as an extreme example!
Committing mistakes in fashion is but natural since not all of us are gifted with fashion sense. As I said before, fashion is more of an art than a science. It is what we make of ourselves, how we fashion ourselves and how we show off our own sense of style. It encompasses various things, from a powerful high avant garde to a fashion mistake such as a mere run in a panty hose or a piece of tissue paper stuck at the back of your skirt or dress or even at the bottom of your shoe! Oh yes, everyone makes mistakes! Some of you may have fallen victim to said fashion blunder at some point in your life! It happens and really funny, right? As a matter of fact, even highly fashionable people like ramp models and famous celebrities do likewise display occasional fashion blunders. We have noticed that in gala and awards shows, some of them experiment certain goofy styles which turn out to be bizarre, awfully bad and messy. And it is even more embarrassing on their part. So guys, there’s no need to worry if sometimes you commit said mistakes! It is okay as long as the lessons learned from these slip-ups shall eventually serve as your guide and reminders next time around. The rule of thumb is, if you feel uncomfortable with yourself, with your outfit, then something must be wrong and needs to be rectified.
Having said all these, the observations I’ve gathered during the one-year stint commute to and from the fashion district of the Big Apple presented various fashion blunders. Notice that the following list of fashion hard and fast no-no’s are the ones common, still true and haven’t quite changed at all despite the constant transformations in the fashion world.
Helpful Tips to Avoid Fashion Faux Pas
1. Dress to the nines according to your built – Take an inventory of your closet and make a list of things you need. If you’ve gained extra pounds and developed sort of a “muffin top” or a “beer belly” around your waist from the nocturnal doldrums last winter time, spare the skinny jeans and the small size pencil skirt you’ve used to adore as for sure it would be too tight in you. You might just end up turning like a stuffed turkey! I have observed this before and even now, wherein some working girls would have the guts to show off their dangerous curves and unwanted bulging bellies, making them look ludicrous!
On the other hand, I have seen people, both men and women, wearing loose or oversized garments so as to hide figure flaws probably not knowing or ignoring the fact that doing so would only highlight their imperfection and worse would even make them look bigger. Sure, it is comfy to sport loose fitting shirts and blouses but there are other options available to explore, such as wearing an inner blouse/shirt with a blazer or a jacket on it that has curvature down to the waist or a blouse with seam which could make you feel sexy and perfectly fit your body form to a T!
Similarly, I have also seen ladies as skinny as fashion models sporting super too-tight jeans or undersized clothes. Actually, it was funny to see it because there were as if a wigwam or a pyramid in between their pencil-thin shaped long legs. It just doesn’t look good at all and definitely not stylish!
As mentioned in my earlier blog (How To Power Dress in the Work Place), power dressing has evolved and is currently more relaxed. There are some trendy clothes that are just fine for a workplace and there are some too which are fashion faux pas. Don’t ever wear cocktail-look a like dresses to the workplace. This would include too short figure hugging dresses or low-cut tops or dresses with frills and laces.
As for the shoes, it was previously suggested in my blog that for office use, shoes with “chunkier heels, maybe an inch or two can add chic and confidence to oneself. Wearing flat shoes, sandals or even flip-flops to office is considered a fashion faux pas. Likewise, do not wear strappy sandals which are more appropriate for night out escapades.
2. Dress to the nines with appropriate underclothes – Especially during late spring and summertime, I have often seen people along the streets of NY not only showing some of their bare skins but also their underclothes or “undies”. Clean, new or ultra chic undies, if exposed to the public, become a fashion blunder. The more it becomes disgusting if the undies are worn out, stained, and untidy to look at (eewww!). Probably you have heard this reminder from you grannies or moms to be cautious in wearing underclothing, that as much as possible there’s a need to wear clean and proper undies to avoid embarrassment because you just don’t know when to encounter mishaps along the way.
Another blunder which I have seen around involves some people wearing clear bra straps in a strapless top or dress. Likewise, wearing dark colored undies, e.g brassieres, with a see through white or light colored dresses or blouses on it, revealing a silhouette of their private properties, shouldn’t be an option. Take note that undies, as the term implies, are meant to be kept inside and not for public eyes consumption. Oooops, sorry for the conservative views! But, don’t get me wrong, I super love undies with cute frills and laces but you may agree with me that it would be awkward for men and women parading around with visible lines and their undies like briefs, thongs, etc. peeking out of their jeans or from the edges of their skirts! To me, they’re totally inappropriate and nothing more!
Likewise, sports bras shouldn’t be worn under a dress or for any everyday attire, they’re designed for working out!
3. Dress to the nines with proper accessories – In particular, women have a fetish when it comes to fashion accessories, Said accessories include, among others, hand bags, shoes, hosiery, headbands, ribbons, jewelries, gloves, watches, bracelets, bangles, belts, shades, and the like. Said accessories could either enhance or complement one’s clothes or it could ruin one’s persona.
A classic example is the use of pantyhose. I for one use them for protection from my shoes and I’m comfortable with them either psychologically or emotionally. I also think that wearing panty hose makes my legs look better, shapelier and sexier. The real faux pas is the manner of wearing it. I have seen some people wearing either too small or too big of hosiery whether it be stockings, leggings or tights. If it’s too small, you will run the risk of highlighting the obvious or if it’s too big , you may appear like a bag lady with the hosiery sagging down your thighs and legs. Note that the seam of the stockings should be discretely tucked away from the opening especially if you’re wearing an open-toed shoes. Ensure that that the color of the pantyhose should match the hem of your skirt at least. Lastly, please put away your stocking with holes and don’t dare to use it to make a difference! It’s just tacky, tacky and tacky!
On the other hand, some people think that showing bare legs is cool and trendy. But actually another blunder is baring your legs itself. In fact fashion experts encouraged to use pantyhose and in fact even displayed these accessories in their runway shows.
The use of “bling” or jewelries, I am not sure about this. Personally, I am not really into gold or silver pleated jewelries. I believe in the saying, simplicity is beauty. However, if you have a nice designer gold watch (probably Gucci), go and flaunt it, that would be great to match with your office or night out attire. It’s definitely a no-no to wear so many gold or bright colored accessories, if you want not to look like a clown! A pair of cultured pearl earrings or necklace would be perfect for a formal occasion or office use.
It should be noted that having same colored accessories is not at all necessary. Coordination is the right term. As long as you have the art of coordinating as well as contrasting colors and designs with your outfit and the accessories, you won’t go wrong. A correct choice and manner of wearing accessories with the desired outfit will surely give you a presentable stylish look.
Now that you have these things in mind, another point to keep in mind is regarding body care. While you may have the fabulous fashionable clothes and accessories in town but have forgotten to physically clean up yourself, then that’s a baloney! That’s like cleaning the front yard of your house and not properly fixing up the mess inside. A mere stain on your dress can give a lasting impression. Proper and good hygiene is definitely a requirement: clean well trimmed finger and toe nails, a well-combed hair, fresh breath and a clean washed flawless face with a slight make-up , will surely make you go a long long way!
Therefore, to avoid fashion faux pas, we should be able to accept who we are, our imperfections but on the other hand learn to use the said imperfection to an opportunity to change and look better by wearing what fits us properly so we can be stylish and be able to exude the needed confidence. Once we have been able to acquire the habit of dressing well for fashion, this could stay and be our style for 2010 and beyond!